Wind turbines are becoming increasingly popular as a renewable energy source, but depending on their location, they may have different impacts on the environment.
When assessing a turbine’s carbon footprint, it is important to consider both the potential of offshore and onshore wind power, and how to reduce emissions with cleaner technologies to fight climate change.
Understanding the Carbon Footprints of Offshore vs Onshore Wind Turbines
While both offshore and onshore wind turbines have the potential to produce clean energy, they each have different carbon footprints.
Offshore turbines are typically more expensive, due to their costly construction and maintenance costs. However, because of their location in open windy areas, they produce a higher electricity output than similarly-sized onshore turbines.
Onshore turbines take up land space, which can be an obstacle in certain areas. However, due to their lower installation costs, energy output per unit of investment is often higher for onshore compared to offshore.
Wind energy CO2 emissions
The numbers are extremely exciting. The CO2 emissions of a wind turbine it’s around 6g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated.
Just to give you a better idea: when we consider natural gas, the most common power source on the US, is about 203g of COW per killowat-hour – according to Carbon Independent.
How bad are wind turbines for the environment?
How long does it take for a wind turbine to become carbon neutral?
You already know that wind turbines emit much less carbon than energy from other sources, such as burning fossil fuels.
However, the transition process is not carbon-free: the production, installation, and maintenance of this equipment currently uses other energy sources.
There have been several rumors that wind turbines would take about 30 years to achieve carbon neutrality because of these secondary processes. This is not true.
According to Vestas, the producer of these turbines that has conducted a thorough study, the carbon payback period is six to nine months.
It is important to remember that wind energy turbines have an estimated use period of 25 years before.
Therefore, the carbon emission in the steel production of these turbines is not only offset: the CO2 efficiency is 33 times higher than it needs to be.
Carbon footprint per energy source table
Check the carbon emissions by every energy source that we currently have around the globe in this table:
|Energy source||Carbon Footprint per kWh|
|Wind Energy||6g CO2/KWh|
|Natural gas||490 gCO2/KWh|
|Biomass||Regular: 230 g CO2/KWh|
Co-Firing: 740 gCO2/KWh
|Solar energy||50g of CO2/KWh|
|Large Hydropower||226g of CO2/KWh|
|Nuclear energy||15-50g of CO2/KWh|
Reducing Carbon Emissions Through Onsite Wind Power Generation
By developing onsite wind generation, communities can reduce their carbon footprints and increase their energy independence.
In addition to cutting down on the large infrastructure needed for long-distance transport of electricity, distributed small-scale generation allows for more sustainable energy sources in rural or suburban areas.
Small turbines fulfill immediate needs near the site of production, reducing carbon emissions from long distance transport and making it easier to reach remote communities.
Minimizing Carbon Output With Innovative Wind Turbine Technologies and Design Strategies
In recent years, technological advancements in the power sector have enabled the development of more efficient wind turbines that generate more electricity with fewer emissions.
Design strategies such as multilevel turbines and optimized blade shapes reduce carbon output by capturing more energy from lower wind speeds, resulting in an overall decrease in emissions. Furthermore, research into renewable energy storage and grid support technologies are being developed to ensure safe and reliable delivery of clean energy to households.
Moving Towards Carbon Neutrality with Large-Scale Renewable Energy Sources
By transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources such as offshore and onshore wind turbines, electricity grids can move away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels while still providing reliable access to electricity.
Not only are these large-scale technologies capable of producing a larger amount of energy than smaller more localized sources, but their substantially lower operational costs can ensure extended periods of energy production that helps decrease total emissions output.
Additionally, the positive environmental impact created by decreasing pollution levels will contribute towards achieving global climate goals set out by Paris agreements and other international initiatives.
Analyzing the Benefits of Transformative Low-Carbon Solutions for Communities and the Environment
One of the biggest pros associated with the adoption of offshore and onshore wind turbines is their ability to transform the current energy landscape in terms of low-carbon solutions. By taking into account local environmental factors and tailoring technology requirements to suit specific contexts, communities are able to experience increased access to reliable electricity.
As a result, resources such as healthcare, education, and transportation become more readily available while also increasing economic growth opportunities. For this reason, advocating for the deployment of transformative low-carbon solutions can have tremendous benefits for both people and planet alike.